by Warren C. Steele
During my early years working at Chrysler, there was an old medallion—a huge sealadorning the overpass walkway between the Laboratory Building and the Engineering Building in Highland Park. Little regard was given to this emblem, it just was part of the Engineering scene, a feeling of Old Tech, and as such was largely ignored.
During the late 1950s my wife, Carlie, was a secretary in our Styling Division for Fran Cogsdale, who headed up the systems and procedures section. In 1959, Dean Clark, the son of Oliver H. Clark — Chrysler’s head designer during its formative years — had a desk next to Carlie’s. Dean was scheduled to retire in three months, and was assigned here as a suitable place before leaving for his retirement.
Dean was told to research the old Chrysler and Dodge emblems and record what they really implied, signified, and represented. After being introduced, I would often come over to see Carik and talk to Dean about his project. Here is what recall him telling me about the original Chrysler emblem.
Other, slightly different explanations, exist but these are what Dean told me, and he should know!
The thunderbolts are sometimes said to be the letter Z, a
tribute to chief engineer Fred Zeder, despite the extra zig-zags. The power explanation makes sense: the first Chrysler car had the industry’s first high compression engine, which increased its output quite a bit.
From 1955 to the early 1980s,
various stylized coats of arms and crowns appeared as Chrysler logos; none of
which are believed to be the real Chrysler (originally Kreussler) family
crest. For example, this 1950s New Yorker boasted a coat of arms. — Mike Sealey
Lions and crowns turned up in Chrysler emblems from 1955-1961, during
which time Chrysler engines bore names such as “Golden Lion 413.”
In 1960, a brochure referred to the “lion crest;” the tiny images on the right are the grille logo (a lion jumping across the triple-crown graphic) and the steering wheel (the lion above the triple crowns). The crowns, very abstract in their final years, were fitting for a make with the Royal, Windsor, and Imperial.
In 1961, the brochure showed no emblems on the outside of the car, but a drawing showed a crown on the steering wheel.
In 1962, a stylized letter “C” replaced the traditional emblems on some models but not others; this may have been the last year for the lion. For 1964, the crowns were huge on the Newport and also used on the New Yorker; as usual, the 300 had its own marking scheme.
For 1965, it appears that the crowns were completely dropped. The stylized C returned; if one wanted, one could assume that the three bars within the opening of the “C” represented the old crowns. The C could even stand for “cat” to press a point. Only one model appears to have had this emblem outside.
And yet, for 1966...
Skipping forward a few years, 1969 saw crowns embossed into the Newport’s seat vinyl, and rather subtly showing in its grille; the New Yorker had the traditional version, this time.
The 1970s Chrysler LeBaron used the old Imperial eagle, while the Cordoba, like the 300, had its own emblem, with a Spanish-coin look. Some mid-1970s Chrysler cars used a crown in their hood ornaments, and 1970s New Yorker Broughams used a coat of arms to show their upscale nature (in some years, one in the steering wheel and a different one on the globe compartment door). We could not find any crowns past the 1970s.
by Mike Sealey
This original logo vanished after 1954 from all but 1955-1956 Windsors, C300s, and
300Bs with manual transmissions (which also kept the older steering columns and shifters.) It reappeared in 1994, in its “extended Chrysler name” form, only to vanish again less than a decade later.
The Forward Look brought about the “wing ding” logo. It may or may not be based on the rockets that Chrysler was building at the time.
The Pentastar was also born in 1962-63, making its way onto 1963 model-year cars and becoming the full corporate logo, though not that of the Chrysler brand itself. Crowns continued to serve in various forms for Chrysler brand cars through 1969 — with three of them stacked on grilles, on a red background or alone, and used in a circular form elsewhere, sometimes rather stylized; and Imperials had their own image.
The Pentastar was used as a brand logo from around 1970 to the early 1990s, in lieu of anything else; in the meantime, the Chrysler name, in various and changing typefaces, served as a logo, coupled with the Pentastar.
As noted earlier, in 1994, surging with pride as the company recovered from another brush with death, Chrysler went back to traditional forms to represent its brands — Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Eagle, and Jeep. Eventually, they integrated the round symbol into an oval and put that into wings.
Both the resurrection of the old form and the pride disappeared after being acquired by Daimler, resulting in this example of a Pentastar-Chrysler name pairing (from 2008):
Shortly after the Fiat takeover, Chrysler trademarked another new logo, based on a modernized wing design, dropping the pentastar as a corporate logo.
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